Small Scooters Create Big Concern in Panama City Beach - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Small Scooters Create Big Concern in Panama City Beach

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A small vehicle is creating big concern in Panama City Beach.

The City of Panama City Beach is looking to make changes to the way scooters and mopeds are rented. However, many rental store owners are fighting back as they say more regulations will hurt their business.

"I think it will put the scooter business out of business," Colleen Swab, Owner of California Cycles, said.

Dozens of owners like Swab packed the city council meeting on Thursday afternoon, many carrying signs displaying their concerns and others taking the podium to express their opinions. Despite negative reaction, the city council approved the first reading of an ordinance.

The proposal would require businesses to attach a color-coded flexible flag to the back of each bike and provide renters with a safety brochure, helmet, and reflective vest reading "rental" on the back.

"If I can give someone a bright vest or a flag that might save their life, that's what I'm trying to do," Police Chief Drew Whitman said.
Whitman said there were several hundred accidents involving scooters this Spring Break. He and city staff have spent months looking into changes aimed at reducing crashes year round.

"People [in Panama City Beach] on vacation are not used to over a thousand mopeds on the road," Whitman said.  "This is just something for the kid's safety on the moped and for the motorist out there making that right hand turn, they might see that vest or that flag, which would protect someone's life or damage to the vehicles."

"Our customers are like we're not going to wear the vest, and that's going to create issues," Swab said.  "If [renters] have to have a vest that says 'rental' on the back, they don't want people to know it's a rental."

Swab added her stores may have to pass the additional costs of flags and vests onto the renters. However, she's open to change and hopes the city will continue to work with those in the scooter business before adopting any significant regulations.
"We want to be on the same page with them, and I would like to think they'd like to be on the same page with us."

City staff and council members plan to continue discussions with business owners and community members and will revisit the proposal at their meeting in May.